BALTIMORE, MD—The Maryland SPCA has received a $75,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to build an extensive program to help Baltimore families keep their pets.
Many families with pets struggle economically. Pet health care is very expensive and out of reach for many Baltimore families. They simply can’t afford it or sustain long-term relationships with veterinary providers. As a result, some families conclude that their only option is to surrender their beloved pets to shelters.
“No one should have to give up a pet because veterinary care is too expensive,” said Jim Peirce, executive director of the MD SPCA. “Today we’re excited to announce a new chapter in our work to improve the lives of pets and the people they love. The MD SPCA is teaming up with PetSmart Charities to build a lasting program that keeps pets and families together.”
During the past two years, the MD SPCA and PetSmart Charities have partnered on PAW Plus—an initiative bringing mobile veterinary care to under-resourced neighborhoods.
Pets receive free check-ups, vaccines, and preventives at monthly clinics. More complex problems receive referrals for care at Neighborhood Vet Care, the MD SPCA’s full-service veterinary clinic. Since 2021, PAW Plus has served 1,068 pets.
“PAW Plus was a huge start,” Peirce said. “But we need a better pipeline for clients to request and get the veterinary care they need and stay connected to a vet over time.”
This grant will allow the MD SPCA to hire a community organizer who will expand engagement, assess community needs, and involve the community in solutions. The position will partner with the MD SPCA’s call resource center, which is expected to launch in 2023.
The call resource center will be run by knowledgeable, empathetic staff and volunteers. A new phone system, new software, extensive training, and resource development will ensure families can share their challenges, get information, and request veterinary assistance and other resources. It will also streamline requests so that families get help as quickly as possible.
Grant funding will further support case management for PAW Plus families, ensuring they’re able to access follow-up care and build lasting relationships as clients at Neighborhood Vet Care. This will ensure families can keep up with vaccinations and check-ups and know where to call when they have a pet emergency.
“Pets are important family members and need health care to thrive,” said Kate Atema, director of community grants at PetSmart Charities. “But 50 million pets across the country lack access to the care they need. As the largest funder of animal welfare in North America, PetSmart Charities made a commitment to support innovative, sustainable models to improve the delivery of low-cost veterinary care. We’re proud of the important work the Maryland SPCA is doing to help pets live long, healthy lives with the people they love.”
Peirce added, “PetSmart Charities is such a committed partner. Together, I know we’ll accomplish truly great things to support pet families.”